tv Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN October 26, 2012 6:00am-7:00am EDT
come to my 90th and he invited me to come to his 100th birthday. [laughter] i was privileged to spend time with him and his family, the last five days of his life. the first morning, a man in working clothes, entered the visitors' area. he introduced himself told us he he came to pay his respects. i saw the flowers and letters that came. envelopes addressed to the hon. senator. and others just plain to george. the postmarks were from vermilion, washington, d.c., ariz., colorado, iowa. some cards but mostly were handwritten letters.
a special interest to me was the back of an envelope. someone drew a big red heart with the message, from your waitress. this was the face of those who call him their senator. these were his people, may he rest in peace. [applause] >> we're going to sing together the song that ann said george thought should be the national anthem. please turn to page 696 and we will sing, "america the beautiful."
>> the senator held the office the senator mcgovern held elective office servant the state of in south dakota for 22 years against strong odds in the early races, and then gaining the trust of his constituents to win by larger margins. in the senate race is in the 1960's and in the 1972. we know in the middle of that career and elected office, one of the most tumultuous times of our country's history in the late 1960's and early 1970's. all of us have man in our ninth look a point that time. the aleph have men in our lives
that kimmel a at that time. the college campuses, the jungle of vietnam. they share stories to us about that time. the uncertainties they were experiencing as 18-year-olds. the 18-19, 20-year olds. my father and stepfather came of age during that time. my husband came of age during that time. two other great public servants in the great state of south dakota came to age at that time. both of them follow senator mcgovern's footsteps to serve in elective office. senator johnson. senator daschle. both of them during their years
of public life have made some of the same commitments to agriculture, to working families, to veterans. and we learned a lot from both of them. we benefited from their service. someone who came of age during that time and his own son served in our more modern wars, who i had the honor of learning from as an intern at his office. when i was a student at george pam university. georgetown university. a hero of mine, someone who has
the same states men-like qualities as senator mcgovern, the humility that marks the type of leadership great people take. i would like to welcome senator johnson to share in remembrance. [applause] >> thank you, stephanie. tonight, we are here to celebrate the life of george mcgovern, a man many of us called friend, and a small group calls grandpa, dad,
uncle, brother, or cousin. to all of the family members who loved him so deeply, thank you. yet shared hime with south dakota and the world, thank you. no that you are all in our g dknow that you are all in our hearts and prayers. when i think of george, i think of a man of uncompromising integrity who dedicated his life to serving our state and our country. as you read numerous prints this week, this is -- a universal memory. the south dakota symphony a few
weeks ago. he was one of the last people to leave the auditorium at night as he took time to shake hands and talk with his many friends and supporters. physically frail, his love for people was as great as ever. like my brother, my mother, george was a preacher's kid. i recall from my mother's memory is that it was not always easy. george often talked about growing up not only as a methodist pk who could not attend movies, but also a child of the depression, living in a small parsonage that shared all they had with those in the congregation who had even less.
this background provided the foundation for his deep sense of morality and social justice. it was a force that led him to be an advocate for feeding the hungry. pursuing the cause of freedom as a world war ii fighter pilot, and after seeing the devastation of war, he returned home to spend the rest of his life working on international conflicts. -- working for peaceful solutions to international conflicts. george once said politics is an act of faith. you need faith in order to make a good and moral decision. george had that faith. his life of moral and intellectual literature has made it easier. -- leadership has made it
easier for all of us to carry the faith ford. -- forward. although he was one of the most prominent leaders of the democratic party, one of the features i most admired in george was his belief that good and moral decisions extended in both parties. it led to his lifelong friendships with statesman bob dole, with whom he formed a deep friendship, and with a conservative commentator, with -- william buckley -- with whom he delighted in debating the issues of the 1990's, whether they were in public, nationally televised, or over a drink. as they travel together
debating their opposing views on college campuses. in one of our last conversations, we talked about today's leaders who forgot to often the importance of respect, corporation, and compromise for the survival of democracy. with all of these accomplishments, perhaps his greatest is his marriage. i will never forget the opening of the library, which eleanor was too sick to attend. he touched a statue of her with him as they sit together throughout their lives. we can rejoice today thatthey are now reunited and with two
other children, they lived a life that a great methodist leader admonished him, when he said, do all the good you can. by all means you can. and all the ways you can. in all the places you can. at all the times you can. to all the people you can, as long as ever you can. i now have the honor to introduce a leader i deeply respect. a man who also with drew inspiration from the life of his close friend, george mcgovern. our vice president, joe biden. [applause]
i have to tell you that my son and i are genuinely honored to be here. somebody said to me in the middle of a campaign, how can you be here? where i come from, the question is how can you not be here? how can you not be here for a man who did so much for so many people? i am here with my colleagues, jim, you crazy son of a gun. [laughter] [applause] i love you. jim and i served together. we became friends right away. we are both nuts. we say what is on our minds. i have not learned not to. tom daschle, know what i respected more at all the years
-- all the years i worked in the united states senate, and tim, your courage, you have such incredible courage and character. [applause] stephanie, thank you for helping hunter get through georgetown. [laughter] you really screwed him up. he went to yale. it bothered me a lot. hildi -- it is good to see you, old buddy. you are still punching. thank you for the help. 1980 was a tough year. a real tough year. in 1980, we lost gaylord nelson, we lost george mcgovern, we lost the heart, soul, and spine of the united states senate i have joined. the speech you heard george
giving, i remember like you do, but maybe from a different perspective. i was a 29-year-old kid. i was a senate nominee from the state of delaware. at my first convention. sitting there, mesmerized by the man who was speaking. much too late in the night, but speaking. i ran with your father in 1972. when i was elected -- i was not old enough to serve. i got elected when i was 29. i had to wait to be eligible to be sworn in. i not only served with your father in the senate from 1972 to 1980. i kept contact with your father and, to my great good fortune,
he kept contact with me. i admired him from the day i became aware of him to the day he died. his face in his speech, we do -- his phrase in his speech, we do love this country, i do not know anybody who loved this country more than george mcgovern. i tried to get a nomination and i was not successful as he was in 1988. i used to end my speeches in the same style from the george mcgovern speech in 1972 but with a different phrase. it is a hymn in the roman catholic church. he will raise you up on eagle's wings and make the sun to shine upon you.
-- and there you on the breath n and make the sun to shine upon you. that was my notion of the country and the obligation we had that i had learned from george mcgovern. our function in public life was to raise people up on eagles' wings. bear them on the breath of dawn and let the sun shine upon them. if we did, the one thing i shared from my family upbringing with george mcgovern was i had never had a doubt i am more optimistic today than when we were elected, i am never optimistic than i was now to shed a little light in the dark corners of this country.
the american people respond. they are capable of anything given half a chance. that is maybe what jeff and i -- i have not seen you in a while -- but we were attracted to george mcgovern for the same reason i got involved in public life in my state as a kid. my state was segregated by law in the state of delaware. i got involved in a civil rights movement. i was no congressman louis. -- lewis. i was not at the bridge at selma. i was picketing and marching to desegregate our movie theaters and working on the east side of my city. it was the dogs. george mcgovern's call to justice to end the war in vietnam helped shape my political sensibilities.
i will leave you with that and line. -- morris, you quoted from the speech -- he said, i am fed up to my ears with old men dreaming up wars for young men to die in. [applause] he not only spoke for our generation, he spoke for our souls. i still feel the same way. i marvel at the courage. every time any event or historical footnote reminds you of that moment, that speech, i
think, as tom and jim and anyone who served in the house of senate can tell you, particularly in the senate, what incredible political courage and gumption and it took to make that speech before the senate. the only thing i shared different with my friend who served is i suffered from having served their longer than all the 13 people in american history. [laughter] isn't that a hell of an indictment? [laughter] excuse me. [laughter] [applause] the reason i mention it if i had been there for 36 years. you have no idea the institutional unintended but
intended pressure that everything from the walls to the marble, this feeling preying a -- this ceiling, upon those of us who served there to try to -- the hardest thing to do is to actually confront the body of women and men when they are out of line. it takes remarkable political courage. can you imagine anyone doing that? i think to myself, and i remember as a kid, a young man, the phrase, this chamber reeks with blood.
the only speech i ever heard that came close to that was a speech by an iowan, a speech on capital punishment which was similarly profound. i always thought to myself, if i ever got there, and i was not thinking at the time, but as i ran, i hope and pray i have that kind of courage. i tell you what courage i did draw from george mcgovern. i come from a family not like most of you, i suspect. a typical middle-class family, three bedrooms, four kids. a relative living with you all
the time. aunts and uncles. it was great for the kids. probably hard for mom and dad. [laughter] i am the first united states senator i ever knew. [laughter] it was literally true until i ran. other than my opponent, i am the first united states senator i knew in my family. it is no horacio alger story, butit is a typical american story. people say to me now and i wonder now, what ever gave you the courage as a 29-year-old kid to announce to the united states senate against a man who had an 82% favorable rating, in the year where we knew it would be tough, senator mcgovern knew
it would be tough, it was solidly red, overwhelmingly republican, but gave you the courage to run? some thought that made you so foolhardy. the answer is your father. i did not know him but i -- i did not know him when i announced for the senate, but i believed i could maybe go help him and the war. -- end this war. i honestly believed it. what an incredible privilege it was to serve with him. i remember what frank church, i
-- ended hubert humphrey at the time was on the foreign relations committee, the young kid on it. serving with your dad. we got a notice that dr. kissinger was coming to an executive section, that meant the private section, before we have for 07 in the senate -- executive session, that meant a private session, before we had 407 in the senate, foreign relations with a big conference table. it looked like a table in the oval office, excuse me, cabinet room. he came to testify and tell us how we were going to end the war. he spoke and spoke -- he did not say anything and everybody thanked him. your father, by this time, was kind of fed up.
we have a committee meeting and -- i said, he did not say anything. i said, we should have the president come up and tell us. [laughter] i am going to tell the president i will never forget jack called down and arranged that afternoon for us to go down in the president, gerald ford, kissinger, and the whole team. as we were walking in, your father turned to me and said, i like you. [laughter] [applause] i'll never forget.
the irony is i am taking too much of your time. i apologize. the irony is the chair i sit in now as vice president is the chair directly across from the president. in the middle of the conference table, facing inward, and i face in the middle. based on seniority, you can see -- get seated as you attend the cabinet meeting. the most junior member sits where the vice president says, so i was sitting there. >> i will never forget how nervous i was. i said, sure if the president or
in my position, the president would ask the president the following questions. i swear to god. ford looked at me graciously and said, yeah. i said, with all due respect, mr. president, you of not -- have not told us anything. with that, the president turned and said, henry, tell them. that was the first time it was decided that we were not going sustain ouri presence. five weeks later, helicopters were taking off the roof. not because of me. that was the plan. i remember walking out of their thinking i was right, i got to go to washington and be with george mcgovern and play a little tiny part in ending that
war. people don't realize, had your father not been there and your father never been in the senate, so much more blood, so much more treasure would've been wasted. the war would have never ended when it did. it would never have ended how we did. your father gave courage to people who did not have the courage to speak up to finally stand up. your father stood there and took all of that beating. your father, who was characterized by these right- wing guys as a coward and unwilling to fight, your father was a genuine hero. it used to make me so angry that your father would never speak up and talk about his hair was some -- about his heroism.
he had more physical courage in his little finger than 95% of those guys. he continued to fight. but they were continuing to fight a war we should not fought in the first place. but because he took such a miserable beating, he actually -- even though he did not win the election, he won the end of the war. the other thing your father did what goes unspoken, he had an egalitarian sense of fairness, his instinct for decency transformed my party. he opened it to women, young people, minorities.
blood, kid. just remember, whenever you are hundreds ofof hthe thousands of people who are alive today because of your father, the lesson he brought back from war. he brought back the lesson of seeing the italian women and children scarring through garbage pails and he decided he was going to make part of his life to end hunger in the world. and, monsignor, you said that there is a thread of connections that continues to atie us. in the senate we used to say please excuse a point of personal privilege. but i feel like my family is
still tethered to you guys .hrough my son hunter,'h he knew your dad when he was a little kid. he was a little boy when i got elected. but he had the great fortune of knowing your father and being able to work with him, being able to learn with your father as an adult. today, as stephanie said, hundreds of charitable organizations exist only because of your father, to fight hunger, feeding hundreds of thousands, millions of people around the world, and teaching them how to feed themselves. the world food program usa is your dad's. i cannot tell you how proud i am of my son that he is now the chairman, but proud because at
that thread, the same thing that brought me into politics connects my son to your dad and in turn my son to you. the idea your grandfather must have been smiling knowing my son and was holding a fundraiser for you. [laughter] i know this sounds corny. i cannot tell you how much enjoyed -- much joy that gives me. it makes me believe that there is that thread, monsignor. it runs through him. folks, george mcgovern didn't whsaatobably -- di whad
probably no more than two handful of people did, he inspired a whole generation of leaders to get engaged in the 1960's. many in this room tonight and so many in washington and capitals all over this country, people who shared the passion, conscience, conviction. and they literally got started because of the george mcgovern. a friend of mine used to say, the courage to stand up and holler for justice. he summoned thousands and thousands of people, who now
summon new people. think about it. more than a handful of women or men in american life who had such a generational impact. it was a great honor to serve with your dad and a great honor to know him. it was a great complement when matt told me that his grandfather watched the debate of mine with paul ryan and said i want to call jow. i appreciate that. -- to call joe. as one of maybe one or two other irish catholics in this church i have to remind you to testify what i'm about to say to be true, the highest compliment an
>> thank you, mr. vice president. thank you so much for honoring us with your presence. it's a privilege to introduce a good friend, matt mcgovern. >> thanks everyone for coming. a couple stories about grandpa's. we always heard a great job titles that we've heard from other speakers in the senate and the congress, but we always called him grandpa, george. someone asked me earlier this week what are your earliest memories of your grandfather? what i was thinking back to just being a tiny little kid, i think about the big smile on his face when we would come to the door to visit him at his house in d.c. and he would greet us with a big hug and a big smile and he would say, will look who's here. and he would just make us feel great. i see everyone else laughing in the front row because they know
what i'm talking about. this picture is one of my favorite pictures of my grandma and grandpa and they're looking down at my cousin tim when he was little in 1972. you can see the smile and the warmth that came from the both of them. so i would say i feel lucky to be part of this family, even if he had never done anything that that mentioned in the newspaper or on tv, just because of the kind of people of my grandma and grandpa were end my parents are. i feel very fortunate that i was able to have him here for 90 years. i had friends in elementary school did not have any of their grandparents at all. i was lucky to have grandparents well into my twenties, thirties, and now forties, losing my last one. we miss him, but i feel lucky to have had him around this long. we would go visit every year at christmas and he would come
visit us and we would go out at least a couple other times during the year. so there's a lot of fond memories. i remember a lot from the 1980 senate race, because we travel around the whole state with the family in a ford van going to every campaign rallies and fairs and rodeos and things like that. i know it did not work out the way we would have liked, but it was still a great adventure to be with my grandpa that way. there were a lot of times where it would just be my grandpa and me driving in a car somewhere. he would be driving and i would be sitting in the car with him. now that i'm older and have worked on other people's campaigns and worked on big campaigns, it does not always work that way. a lot of times it's a big entourage with a lot of staff. a lot of times it would just be he would be driving me somewhere off to a rally and would point
to something and say, you see those trees over there, that is -- when franklin roosevelt came along he changed everything with the new deal. he said being in politics was the best profession because you can either do the most good for people or do the most harm. it's obvious which he chose. for him it was always about helping people and there was always a story behind it. i remember one time it was 1980 and i was a years old. we would go to the campaign office to help stuff envelopes and things like that and one day he came to the office and had a smile on his face like he was about to get away with something. he said, matthew, want to go on airplanes? i said, yes, of course. someone drove was down to the
airport and we got a plane, single-engine plane in mitchell and cool off to somewhere. it was a big adventure, just me and him. he made it a lot of fun for us. i could see the look of horror on my mom's face being in a small airplane like that with the safety record they have. [laughter] but he wanted to be fun for us. i remember another night we were going to go into a dinner that is white fish and i don't think it tastes very great for kids. he wanted to make a campaign funds for us. he dropped me and tim and devin at an a&w nearby with a $20 bill -- tim and kevin and me. we spend every last pending on
the vending machine getting toys and candy. probably not so much fun for everybody else on the campaign trail that night, but it was fun for us. as we got older, he took us to disney world a couple times. i made a remark about saying the space shuttle is going up soon, we should go see it. this was the second space shuttle launch in the early 1980's and he made that happen for us. he was going to use his pull to spoil his grandkids. in addition to all the other great things he's done that other speakers touched on earlier, he continued to do that throughout our lives. as we got older, he added that common sense that that's hard to argue with and that great sense of humor. one time i guess i was about 28 and was thinking about deciding whether or not to go to law school. he said that i should go. as any grandparent would probably tell their grandchild. i said, grandpa, i would be 32
years old when i'm done. he said, you are going. to turn 32 no going. you want to be 32 with a law degree or not? [laughter] he just had that kind of common sense that it's hard to argue with. so i went to law school. i was fortunate enough that when i finished i came to south dakota and it was great to be able to spend more time with glenmont and grandpa both as an adult and realizing that they are getting older and knowing no one lives forever, so i was lucky enough. some of my favorite things would be driving him places, because he needed rides and i was always happy to oblige, although the 5:00 a.m. trip to the airport were not much fun, but i don't complain about them now. one time, this summer we were driving back from mitchell to
sue false and it was late at night, completely dark outside and we were near salem and he looked out the window and said, look out there. so i was saying, look at what? he said look at all the lights. when i was a kid, there were no lights once you got outside town. franklin roosevelt changed that. [laughter] again, he was talking about policy and being involved in politics as a way to help people and bring light to places where there were not any. it's hard to imagine today. but he remembered the days when there was no electricity or lights in rural areas in south dakota and was not shy about having public policy, in and fix that -- come in. two winters ago we had a bitter
cold winter and he decided he wanted to go back to mitchell. it was sometime in january. those in south dakota know when you get on the interstate in the winter, the wind blows your car. from this car my little car feels it could go into a ditch. and there is blowing snow and ice. the interstate was not closed, but there was an advisory saying don't do any non-essential travel. but my grandpa want to go to mitchell, so i was glen drive him. got on the interstate and the car was going to the side. i said something like this weather is just terrible today. he was never one to brag about his service in world war ii ever, accept this one time. [laughter] he said -- and he was a great storyteller, which is one reason he was so successful in politics, and sometimes he would slow it down a little to make a point. and you had to listen. so we started talking real slow.
he said, "matthew, when i was in the war, a lot of times we had to fly in bad weather and you would get out and in the cockpit with 20,000 pounds of bombs in the plane and another 20,000 pounds of fuel and a whole crew of people and the weather is so bad you cannot even see the end of the runway a, but you just had to go." that was the end of this story, so i thought, i guess i'm not going to complain about the weather any more. [laughter] because he's been through much worse. so i will wrap it up there. if there's anyone else from the family that wants to tell some more stories, scott or anyone else. [applause] it does run.
>> thank you all very much. before we have another song and then a benediction, i wanted to announce the doors open at the hall of the pavilion at 11:00 tomorrow hornet. the service will be at 1:00 p.m. and the other will be refreshments on the second-floor at 2:00 p.m.. you are all invited and we look forward to seeing you all there. one more song.
this land is your land this land is my land from california to the new york island from the redwood forest to the gulf stream waters as land was made for you and me ♪ ♪ as i was walking i saw a sign there and on that sign it said no trespassing but on the other side it didn't say nothing bad side was made for you and
me -- that side was made for you and me. this land is your land this land is my land from california to the new york island from the redwood forest to the gulf stream waters this land was made for you and me ♪ one more time. ♪ this land is your land this land is my land from california to the new york island from the redwood forest to the gulf stream waters this land was made for you and me this land was made for you and me this land was made for you and me ♪ >> several live events today.
the national council on u.s.- arab relations continues its annual policy conference. if we will have that on c-span3 at 8:45 a.m. eastern. talking about the future of the israeli-palestinian conflict. at 8:30 eastern on c-span2, the george washington university law school host a forum on implementing the dodd-frank financial regulations law. it includes the former head of the fdic, sheila bair. and we will cover a speech by mitt romney in iowa focusing on the economy. that's also on c-span2 after 1:00 p.m. eastern it. >> we will have the presidential race events and key congressional events around the couny.